Fix Missing Teeth
Advances in dental technology have given patients the ability to replace missing teeth with natural, aesthetically pleasing restorative options. Here, we will review some of the more common options for replacing one or more missing teeth which include partial dentures, dental bridges, and dental implants.
Partial denture: Patients who are missing a few teeth in one area of their mouth may be interested in a partial denture which can be either removable or fixed, whichever best fits the patient’s needs and lifestyle. A partial denture relies on healthy neighboring teeth to attach to; if it is to be removable, metal or acrylic clasps are used to hold the partial in place and enables the patient to remove their partial denture at night for cleaning and sleeping. For a fixed partial denture, two healthy teeth are needed for support, one on either side. Crowns are attached on each end of the partial and are fitted onto the supporting teeth and cemented in place. Since this option is permanent, it cannot be removed by the patient for cleaning or sleeping.
Dental bridge: Like a fixed partial denture, a dental bridge is permanent and cannot be removed by the patient. Most of the time, I traditional bridge can be used to restore missing teeth but occasionally, and Maryland bridge may be appropriate. While a traditional bridge is used to replace multiple missing teeth, a Maryland bridge replaces just one or two missing teeth. One benefit to a Maryland bridge is that it does not affect neighboring teeth like a traditional bridge does. A Maryland bridge is fabricated using metal “wings“ fixed to the back of neighboring teeth allowing a fake tooth to float between the teeth.
Dental implant: A dental implant is by far the most aesthetically pleasing and stable way to restore a missing tooth. Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants but your dentist will be able to determine if you have enough bone structure to support an implant. A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically placed into the jaw bone which acts as the root of a tooth and supports an implant crown. Implants are the more expensive and invasive option but where other restorations have to be replaced every 10 years or so, a dental implant can last a lifetime.
If you have to have a failing tooth extracted, you will be given a temporary denture to wear that will disguise the missing tooth and protect the extraction site while it heals before your permanent restoration is placed.
Of course you always have the option of not having a tooth replaced. Aside from an incomplete smile, a gap left by a missing tooth can allow other healthy teeth to shift together as they try to close the space. This also leads to deterioration of your jawbone structure which can eventually lead to a change in the appearance of your overall facial structure. Not replacing one missing tooth can actually cause you to lose other teeth and can lead to bigger, more costly problems in the future.
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